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Scoop (2006)
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Review Date: August 22, 2006
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Producers: Letty Aronson, Gareth Wiley
Actors:
Scarlett Johansson as Sondra
Hugh Jackman as Peter
Woody Allen as Sid
Plot:
A cute budding reporter is approached by an old-time journalist and given a possible scoop about an upper-class Englishman who might be the serial killer that is ending the lives of a number of London prostitutes. After she hooks up with a magician (just go with it), the duo attempt to splice together some clues about the man in question, but not before the cute reporter starts to fall for the possible killer. Natch! A middle-of-the-road Woody Allen film ensues.
Critique:
Looks like writer/director Woody Allen is back to his old tricks again, with yet another mediocre comedic offering after he surprised everyone with a solid comeback with last year’s MATCH POINT. This time around, Allen seems to have returned to his pre-MATCH POINT habit of banging out flicks with a bunch of one-liners, few plot points, a high ratio of missed laughs versus actual guffaws and nothing particularly memorable when all is said and done. On top of all that, this film also muffles the charisma and charm that make the two leading actors who they are, as both Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johannson come off rather bland and unimpressive here (and I love Wolverine!!). The two are also supposed to be “falling in love”, but other than what we see happening on the screen, we never really feel or sense any connection between them, leading to less of an involvement in the story. Johansson herself also doesn’t seem to have a knack for comedy…I’m not sure why Allen would think of using her as his muse two films in a row. Humor is obviously not her forte. What’s worse is that the so-called “murder mystery” at the heart of this comedic tale is uninvolving and for the most part, uneventful. It took about an hour for me to actually suspect something about the lead perpetrator in the film, which meant lots of thumb-twirling during the film’s two first acts.

Sure, things get somewhat engaging during the film’s final act, but even then, it’s too late in the game to give much of a damn, and the film’s ultimate resolution is just way too obvious and neat. Allen himself pulled this same feat off wonderfully back in 1993 with Diane Keaton by his side, plenty of funnier one-liners and an actual believable murder mystery, in MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY. If you’re interested in the basic premise of a couple suspicious of a “regular Joe” being a murderer, rent that film instead, since it’s much better all around. SCOOP might be a decent rental, if anything, especially since Allen himself is still quite humorous and some of his one-liners were funny, but even he was stammering a little too much in this round, and needs to energize his films a little more (there was barely a score to be heard during this movie). All that said, I will continue to say what I’ve been saying about Allen’s films for almost a decade now and that is that he should stop making one movie a year and take a little more time when crafting his films, as it’s obvious that his ideas are being recycled as are many of his jokes. This film felt like a first draft that needed a few polishes to be stronger, but Allen seems more content in banging his movies out every year, than actually taking his time in sculpting them to a greater perfection. I say all this because he’s one of my favorite filmmakers and I wish that he would get back to his top form and stay there. Oh well.

For now, SCOOP is a weak effort all around, with a somewhat interesting premise and a few funny jokes, but mostly, a lack of chemistry between the two leads, not enough laughs for your hard-earned bucks and certainly nothing all too memorable about the entire production. PS: I do want to thank Woody for showcasing Johansson in a “Baywatch” swimsuit in this film though…good shit.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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